Monroe Library = Best Library!

Loyola’s Monroe Library is once again a Top 20 “Best College Library” in the United States, coming in at no. 13 on this year’s Princeton Review Annual College Rankings. The Princeton Review surveyed 136,000 students at 380 top colleges and Loyola New Orleans earned six “Top 20” rankings.

Read about the Monroe Library’s Princeton Ranking

The Art of Fore-edge Painting

Today, our exploration of Special Collections & Archives uncovers seldom-seen examples of disappearing fore-edge paintings!

Fore-edge painting, simply put, is the technique of applying paint to the edges of the pages of a book. Two types of fore-edge paintings survive, including those applied to closed fore-edges (visible) and adversely, applied to fanned fore-edges (disappearing).

Above: The Pilgrim’s Progress: In Two Parts

While visible fore-edge painting dates back (possibly) as far as the 10th century with the earliest signed and dated example citing 1653, the techniques employed to create mysterious, disappearing fore-edge paintings developed slightly later and reached peak popularity during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Above: The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier

In order to produce a disappearing fore-edge painting, a skilled artisan renders the desired scene on the fanned pages of a manuscript using watercolor pigment. After the paint has thoroughly dried, the book is closed and subsequently, gold is applied to the fore-edges. The watercolor painting is thus rendered “invisible” by gilding and only becomes visible when the text’s pages are fanned.

Above: The Poetical Works of John Milton

These and several other fore-edge painted books gems are available for viewing in Special Collections & Archives Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30 and Friday, 9:00-12:00! You can also learn more about the history and production techniques of fore-edge painting by perusing books like this one.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

Help Yourself with the Last Self-Help Book

#howtotuesday: Help Yourself with the Last Self-Help Book

Why can you size up Saturn, or a stranger, in 10 seconds—but not yourself, whom you have known all your life?

Why is the Self the only object in the Cosmos which gets bored?

Why is it that the Self—though it professes to be loving, caring, to prefer peace to war, concord to discord, life to death; to wish other selves well, not ill—in fact secretly relishes wars and rumors of war, news of murders, obituaries, to say nothing of local news about acquaintances dropping dead in the street, gossip about neighbors getting in fights or being detected in sexual scandals, embezzlements, and other disgraces?

These are but a tiny sample of the questions posed by Walker Percy in Lost in the Cosmos: The Last-Self Help Book.

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book is a tongue-in-cheek, mock self-help text containing essays, multiple-choice quizzes, and “thought experiments” authored by past Loyola University New Orleans mentor and professor Walker Percy. The book, Percy’s most popular work of non-fiction, is formatted to satirize standard self-help books while encouraging readers to seriously contemplate their Self and existential situation. Percy embarks upon an array of topics—religion, science, movie trivia, fear, exhilaration, sex, boredom—and discusses both contemporary events and popular figures (e.g. Jonny Carson, Mother Teresa, and Carl Sagan).

Loyola University Special Collections & Archives holds nine copies of Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book—five copies feature the signature (and in a single case, a rather lengthy inscription) of Walker Percy with one additional copy being inscribed by the book’s editor, Robert Giroux.

Are you interested in taking “A Preliminary Short Quiz so that you may determine whether you need to take the Twenty-Question Self-Help Quiz” or courageously embarking upon Percy’s “Twenty-Question Multiple-Choice Self-Help Quiz to test your knowledge of the peculiar status of the self, your self, and other selves, in the Cosmos, and your knowledge of what to do with your self in these, the last years of the twentieth century?” If so, visit Special Collections & Archives Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30 or Friday 9:00-12:00!

For further study of Walker Percy, Loyola University Special Collections & Archives holds a significant amount of material relating to the author including the Walker Percy Papers, Percy-Walsh Correspondence, Percy-Romagosa Collection, Percy-Suhor Letters, and Patrick Samway, S.J Papers.

More Summer Fun

"Children's Art Classes - Cynthia Clark - teacher 1973 (summer)"

Students in Jackson Square, New Orleans

Golf

From "Loyola Men of the South."

To check out more images like these, visit the Loyola University Photographs Collection online or come to the Booth-Bricker Special Collections &Archives Reading Room on the third floor of Monroe Library.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

Medieval Silk

Housed up here in Special Collections & Archives are more than just books. With everything from photos to films to memorabilia to newspapers, there’s just as an expansive array of materials as there are subjects.

One such material can be found in Collection 62, a single box containing a moment in history shrouded in a dead language: three silk banners written in Medieval Latin produced in the 18th century to advertise various debates on matters of law.

1743 Banner Even to someone whose studied the language, it can be difficult to comprehend what “matters of law” could even be. The religious overtones are hard to miss, but the “conclusio” are a bit tricky. Academically, Classical Latin is what is taught to students wanting to pick up, say, The Aeneid, and read the original text. However, Medieval Latin is a very different matter. As stated by the name, it is the Latin taught and used during the medieval era for religious purposes, mostly for scripture transcribed by Catholic priests. Because it was not a commonly spoken language, nor anyone’s first language, the grammar of Medieval Latin, as opposed to Classical, tends to suffer.  That makes translators today a bit skeptical of any possible translations. 1727 banner

One possible translation for the text written in the bold at the top, as a sort of forward to following “conclusio”, is this (just to give you a sense of what’s going on):

“Beautiful as the moon
Noble as the sun
Mirror of sanctity
Miracle of virtues
Daughter of the Father,
Mother of divine words
Bride of the Holy Spirit
And finally virgin
Conceived without any of the original sin from the fall.
PROGRAMA
Conception of the Sacred Virgin Mary.
ANAGRAMA
Singular, amazing, and without original sin”

Following this is the “epigrama”, a tale of a virgin conception of a child without original sin.

And then following this are the “conclusio”.  One can only assume that what this is referring to are the conclusions one can draw from said tale and what legal grounds they hold as such. In retrospect, such arguments used during a debate of law during the medieval era was common; there was no separation of church and state.

The first conclusion, “prima conclusio”, translates roughly to:

“Just as with life, apprehensive ownerships are acquired of properties, therefore opposed favor, and objection made shall oblige to the Defendant”

The next five conclusions follow the same pattern and tone.

This just being the first of three banners, all are similar in subject and language. For someone studying law debates of the medival era, these could certainly prove useful and an interesting read.

1747 banner

To check out these banners, all of the materials are available for viewing in Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

This post was compiled by student worker Mary Graci.

Two Words: Oriental Stucco

Today we look at one of our more unique titles from the stacks Oriental Stucco.

This book was published in 1924 by the United States Gypsum Company for use by architects as well as to market a new kind of stucco called… wait for it… Oriental Stucco!

This stucco was made with a “list of ingredients” including concrete and most likely gypsum (given the name of the company) and other materials “perfected by modern scientific knowledge” that we are not privy too, but one thing that stands out as told in the Forward is the inclusion of plastic.

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So what is so interesting about a book advertising different types of stucco?

The sample cards…
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Not only does the manufacturer give you the history and quality of the various stuccos documented in the book, they also give you textured and colored examples of what the product could achieve aesthetically. Pretty handy when trying to decide the kind of wall treatment you want for a structure and still informative today as an example of trade advertising from the 1920’s.

Now to peruse a few of the stucco types presented in the book…

We have Greek stucco…
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California Mission…
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The California Mission stucco sample has the roughest texture which seeks to evoke a style that resulted from the tools being wielded by “unskilled” hands and the use of  “course and rough” materials.

Here is a close-up… Look at all that texture!
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The most vivid color sample is the Early Italian… (though all of the stuccos where “made in white, and nine colors”)
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If you would like to come browse this relic of product advertising from the roaring 20′s feel free to visit the Special Collections & Archives in Monroe Library Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30 or Friday, 9:00-12:00.

In the meantime here is a link to a more concise version that was published in 1925 that has been digitized over at the INTERNET ARCHIVE and included in their Building Technology Heritage Library.

Who is LOUIS?

The billboards used to say “LOUIS, wasn’t he a fancy French king?”  The library’s LOUIS is the network of Louisiana college and university libraries.  The Monroe Library is a member along with LSU, Tulane, and every other Louisiana academic library.  Our membership lets us provide you with a huge discount on about a third of all the electronic databases we provide.  If we paid full price for all of these, our budget wouldn’t cover them all!  (We are always looking for a way to save money and extend our budgets!)  LOUIS just posted a brochure about its services and a short video.

Before there was Street-View

Being a fan of travelling to new destinations but not being able to do so as often as I would like, I love being able to look at pictures of the places I wish to go.  Seeing places in a photograph allows you to imagine yourself seeing it in person for the first time, but with modern technology you can be right in front of that famous monument with just a click of a button thanks to developments such as Google’s Street-View option in their maps.

Although, in 1893 before the time of the internet, and back when travelling across the world was not as easily accessible, people relied on picture books such as Thomas Knox’s “Scenes from Every Land” to see the famous places they wished to travel. And those people who could not see these sites with their own eyes were exactly who this book was directed towards, as General Lee Wallace addresses in the introduction, “ To the few who have traveled; to the many who would like to go abroad, , but are restrained by timidity; to the lacking in funds; to the sick and convalescent who promise themselves sight of the world when health will permit; more especially, to the multitude of unfortunates, who, on account of incurable ailments of whatever kinds, can never hope to escape the narrow confines in which their lots are cast, I venture to address this introduction.”
Scenes From Every Land

This particular book holds over 500 pictures from around the world, from Syria to New Zealand and famous buildings to museum galleries, this book shows it all. But one thing that is interesting to wonder when flipping through the pages of this book is how many of these famous sites have changed since the late 1800s, and thanks to Google Street-View we are able to see just how different, if at all, things are. Just click the links below each picture to see how they are today.

Westminster Abbey, London

Westminster Abbey, London

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Vatican, Rome

The Vatican, Rome

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The Colosseum, Rome

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Campanile, or Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Court of Lions in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Court of Lions in the Alhambra , Granada, Spain

St. Basil

St. Basil, the Beatified, Moscow

Great Pyramid and Sphinx, Egypt

Great Pyramid and Sphinx, Egypt

Cleopatra's Needle, Alexandria, Egypt

Cleopatra’s Needle, New York

(The obelisk was originally in Alexandria, Egypt when this photo was taken but was later moved to Central Park in New York City in 1881)

photobook blog post.1

Washington Monument, Washington D.C.

“Mellows – A chronicle of unknown singers”

“It would appear superfluous to enter into any discussion on the origin, character or musical significance of the Negro spiritual, since the fact is so well established that it is an original lyrical creation of the Afro-American mind evolved in this country… but a few words may seem necessary in explanation of the name “mellows.”

Dialect is not the speech to which the Negro will cling; but for elemental poetry, poignancy and expressiveness it far excels purer speech, and in this his songs have that direct emotional utterance that belongs to all time, making the musical art productions of estimable value. These songs are known throughout the South as spirituals, “himes” and “ballets”: but the “mellows” and “make-up” songs of the Louisiana Negro claim a distinctive place. Mellow is the Negro word for melody, and by this term their devotional songs are called in southern Louisiana. So redolent of this quality are they that we are reminded of the words of Renan, speaking of Celtic melodies: ‘Like emanations from above they fall, drop by drop, upon the soul and pass through it like the memories of another world.””

- R. Emmet Kennedy, “Mellows” © 1925

As a casual fan of the Negro spiritual, having heard many of them wonderfully performed in voice master classes here at Loyola by friends of mine, I was excited to read and hum through the “mellows” Kennedy had transcribed directly from ancestors of the slaves that created them. His book presents some “mellows” as just text, some as transcribed melodies and some with full piano harmonizations (something someone could bring to a pianist if they wished to sing one of these slave songs). In each of the songs, the rhythmic and tonal manifestation of the plight of the slave is apparent. The melodies often include dissonances, expressing the pain and agony of their experience, while the rhythmic refrains (sometimes called “burdens”, isn’t that sad?) are repeated to the extent of yielding an intoxicating, incantatory effect on the listener and the singer- no doubt, a coping mechanism for the inhumane conditions we know them to have lived in.

The “mellows” of the Negro slaves can still be recognized as influences in music that came after that time. Dvorak’s New World Symphony (the symphony he wrote about coming to America) incorporates many mellows into its themes. Their influence is even literary, as Edgar Alan Poe admittedly used rhythms from slave songs in much of his poetry. Even the “blues scale” that we hear in much of today’s blues, jazz, rock and even pop music is arguably a manifestation and elaboration of those dissonances that were existent first in Negro spiritual. As horrific a time in our recent history it was, it is a time that is important to remember. We should be thankful to people like R. Emmet Kennedy, who have helped preserved the culture of an entire people and, therefore, contributed to the progression of our own.

“R. Emmet Kennedy’s life changed at the tender age of seven – the Sunday morning he first heard African-American spirituals sung ensemble at the New Hope Baptist Church on 7th Street. Emmet’s childhood friends and playmates were Sammy and Johnny Sparks, sons of Aunt Julie Sparks (Julie’s mother was Milleete Narcisse, formerly a slave on one of the plantations up-river from Gretna) who was one of the lead singers in the New Hope Baptist Church. The church was, and still is, on 7th Street, adjacent to the back yard of the Kennedy home.* ”

- Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), Saturday, November 22, 1941, Page:

*R. Emmet Kennedy (permanent) Exhibit at the Jefferson Parish Library, Gretna Branch located at 102 Willow Drive, Gretna, Louisiana – exhibit by Mr. J. B. Borel.

This post was compiled by student worker Dylan J. Tran.

Book model: Rachel Masters.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

New Orleans Opera Association Archives

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“The date of the very first staging of opera in the New Orleans cannot be firmly established and seems forever lost to music historians, but it can safely be stated that since 1796, in the final decade of the Spanish colonial era, New Orleans has had operatic performances on almost a yearly basis. With few exceptions throughout the nineteenth century, each year the city hosted a resident company which was engaged for its principal theatre and which could be depended upon for performances throughout an established operatic season…

Welcome though these sporadic appearances were, what the city needed was a return to a permanent company, with a fixed operatic season. Determined to meet this challenge, in February 1943 a group of music lovers, led by Walter L. Loubat (1885-1945), drew up a charter creating the New Orleans Opera House Association. An inaugural summer season of open air performances, billed as “Opera under the Stars”, in City Park stadium was planned. The inaugural bill of Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci (June 11/12, 1943) was followed by three other works.  Amelio Colantoni served as artistic director; former Metropolitan Opera conductor Louis Hasselmans was recruited from nearby Louisiana State University’s faculty; and Lelia Haller, a New Orleanian who had danced with the Paris Opéra ballet, began the training of a resident corps de ballet.   The initial season scored a success, but the ever present threat of evening showers in semi tropical New Orleans prompted a move indoors to the Municipal Auditorium that autumn.  The concert hall of the Auditorium remained home for the Opera Association until the inauguration of the Theatre of Performing Arts in 1973.”

Jack Belsom, “A History of Opera in New Orleans.”

Here at Monroe Library’s Special Collections and Archives, we house a huge collection of programs, donated by the New Orleans Opera Association, dating back to that first performance “under the stars” in 1943. I have been lucky enough to have been allotted the task of digitizing this collection. Flipping through the beautifully vintage pages of these programs, one can recognize Loyola Alums credited as both chorus members and singing roles. Sarah Jane McMahon (’02), Norman Treigle (51’) and Bryan Hymel (’01) are just a few of the many recognizable names you can find. You can even find the names of superstars like Walter Cassel, Robert Weede, Eugene Conley, Lawrence Tibbett, Gabor Carelli and many more. Each program includes bios about the composers, conductors and singers involved in each performance, as well as a synopsis of the opera(s) being performed, and provides a neat insight to the life of those musicians. They also include some very hip ads from the time: a piano company that was based in New Orleans, local restaurants and eateries, clothing and jewelry stores, home radios, cars, theatres, etc…

Once the collection is digitized it will be made available and accessible through the SCA webpage. In the meantime, if you desire to hold one of these pieces of operatic history in your own hands, the same pieces of paper that were held by the hands of who-knows-who (perhaps a few of today’s New Orleans-hailing opera stars from their student days), then come by the Booth-Bricker Special Collections and Archives Reading Room on the third floor of Monroe Library to consult with one of our archivists. We will be happy to help!

This post was compiled by student worker Dylan J. Tran.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.